What does it take to win a professional IRONMAN 70.3 race and set the fastest bike split? How do these races play out in terms of tactics? Throughout my pro triathlon career, I’ve shared power file analyses after many of my best performances. To help answer these questions, I’ve collected brief analyses from ten notable races, including five wins and five fastest bike splits, along with a description of the course and conditions. Here they are in reverse chronological order and you can also find most of these power files on Strava.

I consider a power meter to be an indispensable tool for both training and racing. I find that most of its utility comes from analyzing the data after the fact, though it can also be a helpful pacing aid during the race. For more of my thoughts on why a power meter is so important for triathletes and cyclists, check out this video presented by Pioneer.

Looking at these race summaries, it’s striking how variable the demands of pro racing can be. Only some of these differences are accounted for by course characteristics and weather conditions. Some power files show a steady, evenly paced effort, more like an individual time trial. Others feature many spikes in power, surges and attacks arising from strategic moves or riding in a (legally spaced) pack.

Michael English
Photo: Michael English, Fullframe Photos

Anticipating questions about my bike setup, I’ve itemized it below. I’ve done extensive aerodynamic testing and optimization including two trips to the wind tunnel and several sessions with the STAC Virtual Wind Tunnel. Based on this testing, I estimate that my real-world, average CdA during races is roughly 0.22 m² at zero degrees yaw. I’m 182 cm (6 ft) tall and race at around 71-72 kg (155-159 lbs).

  • Frameset: Ventum One
  • Crankset/power meter: Pioneer Dura Ace dual leg power meter and head unit
  • Wheelset: Alto Cycling CC86, CC311 disc
  • Extensions: Zipp Vuka Evo 110 extensions
  • Tires/tubes: Continental Attack/Force/TT or Vittoria Corsa Speed G+ clinchers, Vittoria latex tubes
  • Other components: Shimano Dura Ace, SLF Motion

 

Related: In the wind tunnel with the Ventum One

IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman 2018

  • Results: 1st, 3:49:04, 2:03:26 bike split (2nd fastest)
  • Bike course: one loop, flat, mostly exposed, good road surfaces
  • Conditions: moderate temperature, light wind

 

70.3 Eagleman 2018 power file analysis

Faster 2017 side
Ventum Pro Camp, Faster Wind Tunnel, 2017

IRONMAN 70.3 Victoria 2018

  • Results: 1st, 3:54:45 (course record), 2:10:48 bike split (fastest)
  • Bike course: one loop, constantly rolling, mostly sheltered, mixed road surfaces
  • Conditions: cool, light wind

 

70.3 Victoria 2018 power file analysis

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IRONMAN 70.3 Taiwan 2018

IRONMAN 70.3 Taiwan 2018

  • Results: 1st, 3:46:39, 2:01:09 bike split (fastest)
  • Bike course: out-and-back, flat with a few significant climbs/descents, coastal, decent road surfaces
  • Conditions: moderate temperature and wind

 

70.3 Taiwan 2018 power file analysis

70.3 Taiwan - James Liu
IRONMAN 70.3 Taiwan 2018, Photo: James Liu

IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Cruz 2017

  • Results: 4th, 3:37:19 (shortened swim), 2:06:18 bike split (fastest)
  • Bike course: out-and-back, rolling, coastal, exposed, decent road surfaces
  • Conditions: cool, moderate wind

 

70.3 Santa Cruz 2017 power file analysis

IRONMAN 70.3 Mont Tremblant 2017

  • Results: 3rd, 3:54:26, 2:10:10 bike split
  • Bike course: one loop/out-and-back, constantly rolling with one major climb/descent, good road surfaces
  • Conditions: moderate temperature, light wind, slow day (high pressure?)
  • Notes: personal best average and normalized power for 70.3

 

70.3 Mont Tremblant 2017 power file analysis

LPC TT - Maddy Provencher
LPC Victoria Day Time Trial 2018, Photo: Morgan Provencher

IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman 2017

  • Results: 2nd, 3:54:49, 2:05:45 bike split
  • Bike course: one loop, flat, mostly exposed, good road surfaces
  • Conditions: hot, humid, light wind

 

70.3 Eagleman 2017 power file analysis

IRONMAN 70.3 Monterrey – Pan Am Champs 2017

  • Results: 4th, 3:46:22, 2:00:50 bike split
  • Bike course: two lap out-and-back, flat, exposed, fair road surfaces with two long cobbled sections
  • Conditions: hot, humid, light wind

 

70.3 Monterrey 2017 power file analysis

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Challenge Aruba 2017, Photo: Triathlon Magazine Canada

ITU Long Distance World Championships 2016

  • Results: 5th, 6:08:17 (4/120/30k), 2:58:07 bike split
  • Bike course: two lap/out-and-back, gently rolling, exposed, some poor road surfaces
  • Conditions: very hot and windy
  • Notes: career worst swim!

 

ITU LD WC 2016 power file analysis

IRONMAN 70.3 Ecuador 2016

  • Results: 1st, 3:48:04, 2:05:16 bike split (fastest)
  • Bike course: out-and-back, rolling, exposed, coastal, mixed road surfaces
  • Conditions: moderate temperature and wind

 

70.3 Ecuador 2016 power file analysis

IMG_20170924_223836_124
IRONMAN 70.3 Cozumel 2017, Photo: @cristylpzc

IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman 2016

  • Results: 1st, 3:50:02, 2:03:41 bike split (fastest)
  • Bike course: one loop, flat, mostly exposed, good road surfaces
  • Conditions: hot, humid, moderate wind

 

70.3 Eagleman 2016 power file analysis

IMG_20170828_210930_789
Ventum Pro Camp 2017